Global warming may disrupt human sleep, activate inflammation and increase the risk of infectious diseases in humans, according to a new study. The research was published in the journal Temperature.
Washington, D.C. (WS News Publisher) – How do you sleep on summer nights? Have you ever woken up because it was too hot? Some people think the problem is not serious. Nonetheless, high temperatures prevent people from getting good sleep quality, which affects their life and work and their health, including being more likely to get sick.
Our planet is warming, and as the temperature rises in recent years, more and more animals are struggling to survive. Global warming has reduced global insect populations and biodiversity, increased the risk of natural disasters, and disrupted the balance of marine ecology. The problems caused by global warming are not only these! Scientists have also discovered another vital issue: rising ambient temperatures may increase the risk of human infectious diseases.
A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that thermoregulation and sleep are closely related and that impaired thermoregulation, along with elevated ambient temperatures, may increase the risk of sleep disturbances. When sleep is disturbed, people’s immune system is susceptible to being affected, and proinflammatory cytokines are increased when inflammatory cells and genomic markers are activated.
Elevated proinflammatory cytokines may lead to sleep fragmentation, and when sleep efficiency and deep sleep are reduced, the risk of inflammation and related diseases increases. In other words, elevated ambient temperature, sleep disturbances, and risk of inflammation are associated with and influence each other. A warmer planet means more people may struggle to get a good night’s sleep, and it could also make it harder for the body to fight off infections.
The study noted that sleep disturbances had additional potent effects on reducing adaptive immune response, impairing vaccine responses, and increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases.
“No one has previously put together this notion that the ongoing climate crisis is contributing to sleep disturbance and that it’s possibly contributing to the altered risk of infectious disease we’re seeing,” said Dr. Michael R. Irwin.
Dr. Irwin said future research on this topic should assess how changing ambient temperature affects sleep and immune function. On the other hand, attention should also be paid to how rising ambient temperatures may affect diverse and disadvantaged communities.
“This issue also has important implications for disparities, as low-income communities and communities of color face are at risk of heat and have less access to air conditioning,” Dr. Irwin said. “Just like the pandemic is impacting socioeconomically disadvantaged and ethnic groups disproportionately with more morbid outcomes, it might be that increase in ambient temperature we’re seeing are further exaggerating those risk profiles.”